Traveling Abroad This Holiday Season? Here’s What You Need To Know

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By Marcus Fernandez

The holiday season is in full swing, and for millions of people that means traveling abroad. Wherever your travel plans take you, remember that accidents and mishaps in another country create additional challenges you need to anticipate and handle. 

As you make travel plans and decide what to pack, spend some time putting together what you’ll need in case of an injury, illness, or emergency.  Rarely do people traveling to other countries plan for emergencies, such as knowing how to contact the police or emergency services when help is needed. Here are tips for preparing for situations you may encounter during a holiday getaway.

Check health risks for countries you plan to visit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer travelers a website to check for health advisories for countries worldwide, so you know what vaccinations you may need for a particular country. For example, if your travels take you to England, the CDC Travelers’ Health website advises travelers from the United States to be current in their polio vaccines because of concerns about the poliovirus.

The website also provides recommendations for routine vaccinations that you should ensure are up to date for countries you intend to visit. For England, the CDC recommends checking to ensure you are up to date on the following vaccines:

  • Chickenpox
  • Measles-mumps-rubella
  • Shingles
  • Polio
  • Influenza
  • Shingles

Checking with your healthcare provider to ensure that all routine vaccinations are up to date is a good idea, no matter where you plan to visit.

Pack prescription and over-the-counter medications 

Prescription and over-the-counter medications you take at home may be difficult to obtain when traveling. Pack enough medication in their original containers to last longer than the length of your trip in case of travel delays. 

Don’t forget to include other items you may need, such as sunscreen, facemasks, and insect repellent. Items readily available in the U.S. may not be sold in other countries, so it’s better to bring them with you.

Write down the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take and include the medical conditions for which you take them. Add the names and contact information of your healthcare providers back home. Keep this information with you at all times when traveling.

Let someone at home know about your travel plans

Make copies of your travel itinerary, passports, credit cards, and driver’s license, and give them to a relative or friend who will not be traveling with you. Leaving behind copies can prove helpful should the originals be lost or stolen. 

Write down the contact information of the person holding copies of your documents and designate them as your emergency contact. Keep their information with you at all times while traveling. 

Pack for the weather at your destination

Check the weather forecast at your destination and pack accordingly. It may be warm and sunny in Tampa as you board a flight, but you may need a coat and gloves to keep warm when your flight lands. 

Save space in your luggage by bringing a coat or jacket onto the plane and stowing it in an overhead compartment. This avoids not having something to wear leaving the airport in case your luggage is lost.

Invest in travel insurance

You may already be familiar with trip insurance that reimburses you for delayed or canceled flights, lost luggage, and missed connecting flights. Trip insurance generally does not cover medical issues that suddenly arise when traveling. 

Think of travel insurance as a substitute for the health insurance policy that covers medical care at home. Travel insurance eases much of the uncertainty and stress caused by a medical emergency overseas. Depending on the terms of the insurance policy, travel insurance may cover the following:

  • Expense of emergency medical care.
  • Cost of ambulance services.
  • Hotel accommodations when you cannot travel because of injury or illness.
  • Expenses related to lost luggage.
  • Expenses related to delayed or canceled flights.

Some policies provide emergency transportation back to the U.S. if an emergency medical condition requires it. 

A comprehensive travel insurance policy includes many, if not all, of the features of trip insurance with the added benefit of coverage for medical emergencies. Give yourself enough time before your scheduled trip to shop for the best rates and coverage. 

Know who to call in case of an emergency

The fear and anxiety of an injury or illness while on an overseas getaway can be overwhelming. Unlike back home, where you simply call your family doctor or go to one of the many urgent care facilities near your home, language differences and a limited number of medical service providers create challenges for travelers. 

Before leaving on vacation, write down the address and telephone number of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the countries you plan to visit, and keep it with you at all times. Embassy or consulate personnel can direct you to the nearest medical facilities and provide other services that you may require, including:

  • Contact your relatives in case of an emergency.
  • Recommend local lawyers if you need legal assistance.
  • Replacement of lost or stolen passports.
  • Assist you in an emergency to transfer money from relatives or friends back home.

Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) offered by the U.S. Department of State. Enrolling your trip in STEP lets embassy personnel keep you informed about safety concerns in countries on your travel itinerary, such as natural disasters or civil disturbances. It also allows the embassy to relay information about family emergencies back home. 

What to do when illness or injuries occur?

If you become sick or injured, contact the local U.S. Embassy or consulate and your travel insurance company. They can direct you to a reputable physician, hospital, or other healthcare facility.

Laws and local customs abroad may differ from what you are accustomed to in the U.S. If you are injured in a car accident, contact local law enforcement or the U.S. Embassy. Immediately seek medical treatment for injuries sustained in the crash. 


Advance planning that includes anticipating potential accidents and illness makes it easier when things go wrong on a holiday trip overseas. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at KFB Law wish you safe travels wherever your holiday journey takes you. Contact us today.